Television Category

Massachusetts Broadcasters Association 'Sound Bites' Annual Meeting and Mingling Event, October 30, 2014

Posted October 30, 2014


FCC Enforcement Monitor

Scott R. Flick Carly A. Deckelboim

Posted October 22, 2014

By Scott R. Flick and Carly A. Deckelboim

October 2014

Pillsbury's communications lawyers have published FCC Enforcement Monitor monthly since 1999 to inform our clients of notable FCC enforcement actions against FCC license holders and others. This month's issue includes:

  • $86,400 Fine for Unlicensed and Unauthorized BAS Operations
  • Missing "E/I" Graphic for Children's Television Programs Results in Fine
  • Multiple Rule Violations Lead to $16,000 in Fines

Increased Fine for Continuing Broadcast Auxiliary Services Operations After Being Warned of Violations

Earlier this month, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture ("NAL") against a Texas licensee for operating three broadcast auxiliary services ("BAS") stations without authorizations and operating an additional six BAS stations at variance with their respective authorizations. The FCC noted that it was taking this enforcement action because it has a duty to prevent unlicensed radio operations from potentially interfering with authorized radio communications in the United States and to ensure the efficient administration and management of wireless radio frequencies.

Section 301 of the Communications Act provides that "[n]o person shall use or operate any apparatus for the transmission of energy of communications or signals by radio . . . except under and in accordance with this Act and with a license in that behalf granted under the provisions of the Act." In addition, Section 1.947(a) of the FCC's Rules specifies that major modifications to BAS licenses require prior FCC approval, and Section 1.929(d)(1) provides that changes to BAS television coordinates, frequency, bandwidth, antenna height, and emission type (the types of changes the licensee made in this case) are major modifications. The base fine for operating a station without FCC authority is $10,000 and the base fine for unauthorized emissions, using an unauthorized frequency, and construction or operation at an unauthorized location, is $4,000.

In April 2013, the licensee submitted applications for three new "as built" BAS facilities and six modified facilities. The modifications pertained to updates to the licensed locations of some of the licensee's transmit/receive sites to reflect the as-built locations, changes to authorized frequencies, and recharacterization of sites from analog to digital. The licensee disclosed the three unauthorized stations and six stations operating at variance from their authorizations in these April 2013 applications. As a result of the licensee's disclosures, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau referred the matter to the Enforcement Bureau (the "Bureau") for investigation. In November 2013, the Bureau's Spectrum Enforcement Division instructed the licensee to submit a sworn written response to a series of questions about its apparent unauthorized operations. The licensee replied to the Bureau in January 2014 and admitted that it operated the nine BAS facilities either without authorization or at variance with their authorizations. The licensee also admitted that it learned of the violations in May 2012 while conducting an audit of its BAS facilities. Finally, the licensee noted that it could not identify the precise dates when the violations occurred but that they had likely been ongoing for years and possibly since some of the stations were acquired in 1991 and 2001.

The FCC concluded that the licensee had willfully and repeatedly violated the FCC's rules and noted that the base fine amount was $54,000, comprised of $30,000 for the three unauthorized BAS stations and $24,000 for the six BAS stations not operating as authorized. The licensee had argued that a $4,000 base fine should apply to the three unauthorized BAS stations because the FCC had previously imposed a $4,000 fine for similar violations when the licensee had color of authority to operate the BAS stations pursuant to an existing license for its full-power station. The FCC rejected this argument and noted that its most recent enforcement actions applied a $10,000 base fine for unlicensed BAS operations even where the full-power station license was valid.

The FCC concluded that the extended duration of the violations, including the continuing nature of the violations after the licensee became aware of the unlicensed and unauthorized operations, merited an upward adjustment of the proposed fine by $32,400. The FCC indicated that the licensee's voluntary disclosure of the violations before the FCC began its investigation did not absolve the licensee of liability because of the licensee's earlier awareness of the violations and the extended duration of the violations. The FCC therefore proposed a total fine of $86,400.

Reliance on Foreign-Language Programmer Did Not Affect Licensee's $3,000 Fine

The Chief of the Video Division of the FCC's Media Bureau issued an NAL against a California licensee for failing to properly identify educational children's programming through display on the television screen of the "E/I" symbol.

The Children's Television Act of 1990 introduced an obligation for television broadcast licensees to offer programming that meets the educational and informational needs of children ("Core Programming"). Section 73.671(c)(5) of the FCC's Rules expands on this obligation by requiring that broadcasters identify Core Programming by displaying the "E/I" symbol on the television screen throughout the program.

The licensee filed its license renewal application on August 1, 2014. The licensee certified in the application that it had not identified each Core program at the beginning of each program and had failed to properly display the "E/I" symbol during educational children's programming aired on a Korean-language digital multicast channel. In September 2014, the licensee amended its license renewal application to specify the time period when the "E/I" symbol was not used and two days later amended the renewal application again to state that it had encountered similar issues with displaying the "E/I" symbol on the station's Chinese-language digital multicast channel.

Continue reading "FCC Enforcement Monitor"


Kansas Association of Broadcasters Convention, October 19-21, 2014, DoubleTree by Hilton Airport, Wichita, KS

Posted October 19, 2014


New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters Annual Meeting, Appreciation Night and Granite Mike Awards, October 16, 2014

Posted October 16, 2014


Arizona Broadcasters Association 25th Annual Broadcasters Hall of Fame Luncheon, October 16, 2014, Talking Stick Resort, Scottsdale, AZ

Posted October 16, 2014


Alaska Broadcasters Association Convention, October 16-17, 2014, Sheraton Anchorage Hotel, Anchorage, AK

Posted October 16, 2014


Scott Flick of Pillsbury Speaks on "Bloomberg Law Brief: Aereo Seeks New Status", October 15, 2014

Scott R. Flick

Posted October 15, 2014

Scott R. Flick of Pillsbury and Jonathan Weinberg, a law professor at Wayne State University, discuss with June Grasso on Bloomberg Radio's "Bloomberg Law" a request by Aereo to have the FCC change the definition of a video service provider to help the company find a way to resume operations.

For more information and to download this podcast, please click here.


Breaking News: FCC Suspends Construction Deadlines and Expiration Dates for New LPTVs and Translators

Lauren Lynch Flick

Posted October 10, 2014

By Lauren Lynch Flick

Late today, the FCC released a Public Notice stating that "[e]ffective immediately, the expiration dates and construction deadlines for all outstanding unexpired construction permits for new digital low power television (LPTV) and TV translator stations are hereby suspended pending final action in the rulemaking proceeding in MB Docket No. 03-185 initiated today by the Commission."

As referenced in that statement, the FCC simultaneously released a Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on a number of issues related to the transition of LPTV stations to digital and their fate in the post-auction spectrum repacking. Specifically, the FCC states in the NPRM that:


In this proceeding, we consider the measures discussed in the Incentive Auction Report and Order, other measures to ensure the successful completion of the LPTV and TV translator digital transition and to help preserve the important services LPTV and TV translator stations provide, and other related matters. Specifically, we tentatively conclude that we should: (1) extend the September 1, 2015 digital transition deadline for LPTV and TV translator stations; (2) adopt rules to allow channel sharing by and between LPTV and TV translator stations; and (3) create a "digital-to-digital replacement translator" service for full power stations that experience losses in their pre-auction service areas. We also seek comment on: (1) our proposed use of the incentive auction optimization model to assist LPTV and TV translator stations displaced by the auction and repacking process to identify new channels; (2) whether to permit digital LPTV stations to operate analog FM radio-type services on an ancillary or supplementary basis; and (3) whether to eliminate the requirement in section 15.117(b) of our rules that TV receivers include analog tuners. We also invite input on any other measures we should consider to further mitigate the impact of the auction and repacking process on LPTV and TV translator stations.

While primarily focused on the future of the LPTV and TV translator services, the NPRM definitely includes some issues of interest to full-power TV stations as well, including the idea that repacking full-power stations may necessitate the construction of digital-to-digital translators to address situations where such stations "experience losses in their pre-auction service areas". The extent to which the FCC may create such losses is of course one of the issues currently on appeal before the courts, but such losses might also result from stations voluntarily moving from UHF to VHF channels in the auction, or moving from a High VHF to a Low VHF channel. The FCC proposes to permit such translators only where a loss of service has occurred, and to limit such translators to replicating, rather than extending, a station's prior coverage area.

Another interesting issue for which the FCC is seeking input in the NPRM is whether to allow LPTV and TV translator stations to channel-share with full-power and Class A TV stations. That issue, as well as the proposal to allow Channel 6 LPTV stations to provide an analog FM audio service as an ancillary service, will make this a particularly interesting proceeding likely to attract lots of comments.

The comment dates have not yet been set, but Comments will be due 30 days after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, with Reply Comments due 15 days after that. Those operating LPTV and TV translator stations will no doubt be happy to see that the FCC is taking steps to "mitigate the potential impact of the incentive auction and the repacking process on LPTV and TV translator stations," but the many issues covered by the NPRM make clear that, for many of these stations, it will definitely be an uphill climb.


Connecticut Broadcasters Association Convention, October 9, 2014, Hartford Hilton, Hartford, CT

Posted October 9, 2014


Lauren Lynch Flick of Pillsbury to Speak on "Recruiting, Hiring, and Papering: The FCC's EEO Rule for Broadcasters

Lauren Lynch Flick

Posted October 8, 2014

Lauren Lynch Flick will discuss the FCC's EEO Rule for Broadcasters in this webinar sponsored by the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association and New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters on October 7, 2014 at 2:00 PM Eastern Time.

For additional details and to register, click here.


New York State Broadcasters Association Digital Leadership Academy, October 2-3, 2014, Ritz Carlton, White Plains, NY

Posted October 2, 2014


Pre-Filing and Post-Filing License Renewal Announcement Reminder for TV Stations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont

Scott R. Flick Lauren Lynch Flick

Posted October 1, 2014

By Lauren Lynch Flick and Scott R. Flick

September 2014

TV, Class A TV, and locally originating LPTV stations licensed to communities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont must begin airing pre-filing license renewal announcements on October 1, 2014. License renewal applications for all TV stations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont are due by December 1, 2014.

Pre-Filing License Renewal Announcements

Stations in the video services that are licensed to communities in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont must file their license renewal applications by December 1, 2014.

Beginning two months prior to that filing, full power TV, Class A TV, and LPTV stations capable of local origination must air four pre-filing renewal announcements alerting the public to the upcoming license renewal application filing. These stations must air the first pre-filing announcement on October 1, 2014. The remaining announcements must air on October 16, November 1, and November 16, 2014, for a total of four announcements. A sign board or slide showing the licensee's address and the FCC's Washington DC address must be displayed while the pre-filing announcements are broadcast.

For commercial stations, at least two of these four announcements must air between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific) or 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. (Central/Mountain). Locally-originating LPTV stations must broadcast these announcements as close to the above schedule as their operating schedule permits. Noncommercial stations must air the announcements at the same times as commercial stations, but need not air any announcements in a month in which the station does not operate. A noncommercial station that will not air some announcements because it is off the air must air the remaining announcements as listed above, i.e., the first two must air between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific) or 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. (Central/Mountain).

Continue reading "Pre-Filing and Post-Filing License Renewal Announcement Reminder for TV Stations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont"


Biennial Ownership Reports are due by October 1, 2014 for Noncommercial Radio Stations in IA and MO and Noncommercial Television Stations in AK, Am. Samoa, FL, Guam, HI, Mariana Is., OR, PR, Saipan, VI and WA

Scott R. Flick Lauren Lynch Flick

Posted October 1, 2014

By Lauren Lynch Flick and Scott R. Flick

September 2014

The staggered deadlines for noncommercial radio and television stations to file Biennial Ownership Reports remain in effect and are tied to each station's respective license renewal filing deadline.

Noncommercial radio stations licensed to communities in Iowa and Missouri and noncommercial television stations licensed to communities in Alaska, American Samoa, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, the Mariana Islands, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Saipan, the Virgin Islands, and Washington must electronically file their Biennial Ownership Reports by October 1, 2014. Licensees must file using FCC Form 323-E and must also place the form as filed in their stations' public inspection files. Television stations must assure that a copy of the form is posted to their online public inspection files at https://stations.fcc.gov.

In 2009, the FCC issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comments on whether the Commission should adopt a single national filing deadline for all noncommercial radio and television broadcast stations like the one that the FCC has established for all commercial radio and television stations. In January 2013, the FCC renewed that inquiry. Until a decision is reached, noncommercial radio and television stations continue to be required to file their biennial ownership reports every two years by the anniversary date of the station's license renewal application filing deadline.

A PDF version of this article can be found at Biennial Ownership Reports are due by October 1, 2014 for Noncommercial Radio Stations in Iowa & Missouri & Noncommercial Television Stations in Alaska, American Samoa, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, the Mariana Islands, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Saipan, the Virgin Islands, and Washington.


Kentucky Broadcasters Association Convention, October 2014

Posted October 1, 2014


Annual EEO Public File Report Deadline for Stations in AK, Am. Samoa, FL, Guam, HI, Mariana Is., MO, OR, PR, Saipan, VI and WA

Scott R. Flick Lauren Lynch Flick

Posted October 1, 2014

By Lauren Lynch Flick and Scott R. Flick

September 2014

This Broadcast Station Advisory is directed to radio and television stations in Alaska, American Samoa, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Iowa, the Mariana Islands, Missouri, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Saipan, the Virgin Islands, and Washington, and highlights the upcoming deadlines for compliance with the FCC's EEO Rule.

October 1, 2014 is the deadline for broadcast stations licensed to communities in Alaska, American Samoa, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Iowa, the Mariana Islands, Missouri, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Saipan, the Virgin Islands, and Washington to place their Annual EEO Public File Report in their public inspection files and post the reports on their station websites.

Under the FCC's EEO Rule, all radio and television station employment units ("SEUs"), regardless of staff size, must afford equal opportunity to all qualified persons and practice nondiscrimination in employment.

In addition, those SEUs with five or more full-time employees ("Nonexempt SEUs") must also comply with the FCC's three-prong outreach requirements. Specifically, all Nonexempt SEUs must (i) broadly and inclusively disseminate information about every full-time job opening, except in exigent circumstances, (ii) send notifications of full-time job vacancies to referral organizations that have requested such notification, and (iii) earn a certain minimum number of EEO credits, based on participation in various non-vacancy-specific outreach initiatives ("Menu Options") suggested by the FCC, during each of the two-year segments (four segments total) that comprise a station's eight-year license term. These Menu Option initiatives include, for example, sponsoring job fairs, participating in job fairs, and having an internship program.

Continue reading "Annual EEO Public File Report Deadline for Stations in AK, Am. Samoa, FL, Guam, HI, Mariana Is., MO, OR, PR, Saipan, VI and WA"